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Mass. Firefighters Travel To Quebec To Help Battle Wildfires

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BOSTON (CBS) — Fifteen state firefighters have traveled to Quebec, Canada to help battle fires that have raged across more than one million acres since last month.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

The deployment is a response to a request the Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jack Murray received Tuesday from firefighters in Canada.

The firefighters left Thursday morning, to join up with six firefighters from Maine to make up a full 21-person specialized hand crew.

The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission is a compact comprised of the six New England states, New York and four eastern Canadian provinces, including Quebec.

Fire Warden for Mass. DCR Dave Celino said after 19 firefighters died battling a wildfire in Arizona, they are all more aware of just how dangerous their jobs are.

The 20-member crew of Arizona Granite Mountain Hotshots were battling a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz., on June 30 when the wind changed and redirected the intense flames at their position. Only the unit’s lookout, who was stationed on a nearby hilltop, survived the disaster.

Listen to the extended interview with the chief

“We told our crew this morning, that we want them to think about those 19 firefighters, for the soul purpose we keep our own situational awareness when we’re out in the field,” Celino said. “It’s important that our firefighters keep their own situational awareness and their own heads up.”

Celino says the type of fire burning in Quebec coupled with the new surroundings, will make battling the fire difficult.

“They go through a lot of training; there is the science part of the job, fire behavior, tactics, equipment,’ Celino said. “There is also the human factor of it. Over the years where we’ve had numerous tragedies in this business, we’ve built more and more human factor training into the training itself.”

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